November 24 – The First Tree

I can’t remember when it became a tradition for the Hooligan family to put up their Christmas tree the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. Maybe we started when J.Hooligan was a baby and we were eager to get into the spirit.

One of those tree-trimming Tuesdays I remember especially was the year Diamondqueen was pregnant with S.Hooligan (2002). Diamondqueen had been very ill with morning sickness as well as anxiety about the little peanut she was carrying. Since J.’s birth, she’d lost one baby very early in her pregnancy, and paranoia had taken over. She was wild with worry and worn down with the strain of being so bad off physically.

If I’m remembering correctly, that Tuesday before Thanksgiving she had an ultrasound that proved the baby was alive and well, developing as she should. (I don’t think we knew yet it was a “she,” but at that point, Diamondqueen just wanted a healthy infant, regardless of the sex.) If the test wasn’t that day, then Diamondqueen got some kind of good medical news, because her mood was completely different that evening. She felt up to putting up the tree; J., who was only three years old, was an enthusiastic participant and surprisingly helpful.

We’d had a light snow that day, unusual for November in Southwestern Ohio. After the tree was trimmed, Diamondqueen, That Poor Man, J.Hooligan, and I ran outside to see what it looked like. This morphed into an out-and-out snowball fight. It was fun, of course, but more than that, it was a relief to see Diamondqueen happier than she’d been in weeks.

Tonight that baby that everyone worried about was right there in the middle of everything, a long and lean six-year-old stage managing the entire proceeding. She said she was putting the “magic” on the tree by tossing on threads of silver tinsel she’d salvaged from the carpet. At one point she made J.Hooligan and me hold hands with her and rock back and forth singing along with Yoko Ono on “And So This Is Christmas.” For awhile she tried to crawl under the tree and curl up there like the cat, but her father dragged her out and gave her a swat in the britches.

When the tree stood there at last in its completed, shining glory, S. wanted us to all stand hand-in-hand around it and sing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” J. wouldn’t cooperate and Diamondqueen drifted away after a verse or two. I didn’t pay any attention to what S. was doing until she’d arranged three of her stuffed animals under the tree, sat down next to them, and insisted I join her. This made a much fuller choir in number if not in voices. She lost me when she laid all the animals flat and joined them with her head under the tree. I’m a pretty good sport about such activities, but this seemed to be taking things a little too far. Besides, I didn’t want That Poor Man dragging me out and swatting my butt.

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